This blog is dedicated to my friend, my mentor, and the best teacher I have ever had. Without him, I would not have embarked on this amazing journey. Split, this blog is for you!
Ponderosa Misty Icon, aka "Split," is a handsome gray Welsh pony who came to me via a phone call "out of the blue" (actually Peterborough, Ontario). Our first few months together were rocky to say the least, which made me question my ability as a horse owner, as a horsewoman, and as a rider. Forty years of horse ownership had not prepared me for this little gray pony!
But we muddled through and because of Split, I have begun a journey that is both spiritual and enlightening. I hope something here resonates with you and that you'll check back now and then.
We leave you with one of our favorite quotes: "The best whisper is a click!"

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My favorite recipe

Everyone has a favorite recipe and in the fall of 2005, my specialty seemed to have become "Recipe for Disaster." I had just sold one Welsh pony with whom I had failed miserably when into my life stepped the "perfect" pony - a small gray Welsh named "Split." Get out the wooden spoon and the bowl and start mixin'! If any of you are interested in my "Recipe for Disaster," here it is:
Take one gray pony and separate from his herd and his owners; transplant him to another country. Add one overly-distraught human being, an ill-fitting saddle, a pack of coyotes, and a cold windy day. Mix well and turn out in the middle of a very large field. No need to stir - the ingredients will mix themselves. When fully blended, mixture will explode, sending all participants in opposite directions. Wait for human to land on the front lawn and pony to be caught by neighbor. Serve with a large helping of "crow" several days after the recipe is "done."
Poor Split. He had been taken away from his equine buddies and his beloved human family and brought to a "foreign" country to boot! He was a total gentleman about it all, though! What a refreshing change from my previous aggressive pony. Split has impeccable manners and from the get-go he allowed us into his personal space with no hint of unhappiness - he was quite happy to be groomed and petted and fussed over! Our first ride was 3 days after he arrived here. I hopped on bareback and rode around our very large backyard and even took a little jaunt out into the meadow. The only problem occurred when we rode through a narrow opening between 2 large fir trees. As we emerged into the meadow, Split suddenly tossed in 3 big bucks! I think the fir tree branches must have whacked his hiney. I stayed on, though! I figured if I didn't fall off after riding through 3 bucks bareback, with a saddle I was NEVER coming off this pony! HAH! Split was fun to ride and he was agreeable to pretty much everything but there were a few "spooky" moments where he jumped sideways, snorted and stared off into the distance. I must admit that those frightened me - I was always poised for the rearing or the backing up (because of Brick - he had really taken the wind out of my sails!) and would get tense and worried. Naturally Split would pick up on that and then think, "Uh-oh! Mom's worried! There must be something to worry ABOUT!" LOL
Then came that "fateful Friday." It was mid-November, cold and windy, and getting dark early. I decided to go for a quick ride around our meadow. Split's behavior SHOULD have been a warning to me that perhaps a ride that day wasn't a good idea. Instead of standing quietly as usual while we saddled up, he was very antsy, fidgeting around in the stall, snorting, etc. The logical part of me said, "Karleen, this is not a good idea today." The "I will not let another pony scare me" part of me said, "Nonsense! You get on this pony and ride! You're a very good rider. You can handle anything. Stop worrying." Gulp! So off we went..........Things went pretty well at first but then Split really began to fidget. He danced in place; he turned and "bit" at the girth; he snorted and blew and spooked at things........
We walked and trotted and even galloped where it was safe. But I was very tense and nervous because of all the snorting and prancing, and had a death grip on the reins. As it was seriously getting dark, we ended our ride at the top of our meadow and I decided to turn and go for home. We were dancing and prancing along when Split began to pick up a good-paced trot. I asked him to walk which he did but he was clearly nervous about something and didn't settle. He trotted again. I asked for a walk................With a huge snort and the blast of a fart, Split tucked his hind end and bolted! I'm talking galloping so fast that everything around me was a blur!! I remember those first few nanoseconds of shock, followed by hauling on the reins to no avail, to thinking, "Please don't step in a woodchuck hole!" In a heartbeat we were in the backyard where Split slowed down enough for me to bail off safely onto the kitchen lawn. He kept on going - tail up over his back, head up and eyes rolling...................I was devastated and so very angry and disgusted with myself. I got up and started running after him (like I could catch a galloping pony!) and was surprised to see my neighbor Larry walking calmly toward me leading Split and carrying a plastic bucket. Larry knows nothing about horses but he did have the presence of mind to grab a bucket from his porch, toss in a few pebbles and rattle them, hoping that he could fool Split into thinking it was grain. And it worked! He said that Split slammed on the brakes and walked over to him as calmly as could be and wasn't even insulted when he discovered rocks in the bucket instead of food! Indeed, I took the reins and Split followed me right back to the barn and into his stall. However, within a few minutes of being unsaddled and checked for injuries, he began pacing and would go out into the paddock and stare into the meadow, run back into his stall and stare out the door, then back out into the paddock.......He wasn't interested in his hay, either. He'd grab a mouthful and then trot around the paddock, staring out into the meadow. I knew then that he was crazy as a loon. Or could it be me? Perhaps I was doing something to MAKE horses crazy. I was totally deflated. I beat myself up emotionally all that night. I cried, I yelled (at myself), I told my husband that I was sending Split back to Canada because clearly I was UNFIT TO RIDE EVER AGAIN! John remained extremely calm while listening to all my tirades. Finally he gave me a big hug and said, "You're not getting rid of that pony." My first reaction was, "Hey, who are you and what have you done with my REAL husband?" LOL Instead I said, "WHAH? Whaddya mean? Obviously I'm not going to ride again. What if I never ride again?" (Are you seeing a theme here?) "If I never ride again, why should I even HAVE a horse? Why keep Split if I never ride him again? Huh? What if I never ride again?" John smiled, hugged me again and said, "Well then, you have a....a......REALLY BIG PET." Clearly he understood that I really did love this little gray pony and that there was a relationship developing between us. He also knew that I needed time to "recover" from the shock of having been run away with. Forty years of riding and I'd never been on a run-away; never felt out of control the way I had in those fateful few minutes.
That night the coyotes descended on my paddock and John could hear them baying and howling right in back of the barn (I was clueless because of my hearing loss). Split was FRANTIC, as you can imagine. I kept going out and checking on him and yelling at the coyotes (who would shut up temporarily and then begin howling as soon as I was back in the house). John asked me where I was riding when Split bolted and when I told him, he sighed and said, "I guess I should have warned you. That's where the coyotes come out into the meadow every night but I didn't think you'd be out there at dusk this time of year." Hmmm....There was one ingredient I didn't know about. And there were others, it turns out.......My saddle (my beloved Pessoa) didn't fit Split at all and in fact had caused some bumps on this withers! Shame on me for not noticing. Split does NOT like windy days AT ALL and even now will "fret" when the wind picks up speed.
I had not yet been fitted with hearing aides (that's a long story) and when outside was virtually deaf (especially on windy days) so that if Split spooked, I would have no idea what had caused the behavior or what the noise was or where it was coming from.
Which also means that I wouldn't have heard the coyotes come out of the woods (probably couldn't have heard them even with normal hearing and most likely Split smelled them before they appeared or made a sound anyway). Add all of that up and you get my "Recipe for Disaster."
Did I ever ride again? That's a story for another day. It's been an amazing journey and there's lots more to tell. That wild November ride set me on a path I never anticipated....

We leave you with this quote today:

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook -- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" Julia Child

I'll never be a good cook but life itself is full of new recipes. I've tried out a few - you should, too!

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